Talking about a problem is often the first step to solving it, so let’s talk about climate change.

Why talking about climate change matters

For Scotland and the rest of the world, climate change is one of the most far reaching challenges of our time. There are many possible ways to approach this challenge and passionate voices across the country continue to put forward many possible solutions and positive views of a low carbon future. However, climate change is also a subject that many find difficult to talk about, even with close friends, family and colleagues. This is a problem because in a democracy, open, healthy, informed public discussion is essential to creating solutions that reflect the diverse views of the population.

What is the solution?

Climate Conversations aims to create a national conversation about climate change and use the exchange of ideas to improve policy. A standard Climate Conversations session involves completing two activities focused on giving people the space to discuss their views on climate change and lasts around 70 minutes.

The materials to run a conversation are based on preliminary research by Climate Outreach and ClimateXChange, and are available on the Scottish Government’s website.

How Sniffer is helping people to speak up on climate change

In Autumn 2016, Sniffer delivered 11 Climate Conversations by co-hosting sessions with a diverse range of community-facing organisations across the country. Our partners included Young Scot, Oxfam Scotland, the Rotary Club and many others. A total of 88 members of the public took part in our conversations, with ages ranging from 17-90 years old.

Sniffer’s conversations ran in parallel with further sessions hosted by the Surefoot Effect and Eco Congregations.  You can read more about our unique approach to reaching out to diverse audiences and building lasting legacy into the project in this case study. Across the conversations the key findings were:

  • The Climate Conversations framework is an effective, enjoyable way to have a useful discussion with the public about climate change.
  • Participants want to act on climate change but want more information on climate change, the impacts of climate change and the actions they can take.
  • People want to engage but need help to go from interest to action. The low carbon choice needs to be the easy choice and the fair choice.
  • There is an appetite for an ambitious and holistic vision of the future.
  • People want a transparent and consistent approach to climate change across government.

Sniffer and our project partners presented our full results at the Scottish Government’s cross-sector stakeholder engagement workshop on climate change in December 2016. The results from the combined conversations were used by the Scottish Government to inform the content of the new draft Climate Change Plan, published in January 2017.

Following the publication of the draft Climate Change Plan, Sniffer has continued to work with the Scottish Government and our project partners to continue to develop the Climate Conversations approach. In March 2017, Sniffer and the Surefoot Effect led a special seminar on Climate Conversations, hosted by the Scottish Government and ClimateXChange, a summary of which you can read here.

What next?

Sniffer continues to work with the Scottish Government and other project partners to develop the Climate Conversations approach. All of the resources required to hold your own Climate Conversations session and feedback to the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Team can be found here.

You can read the Scottish Government's report on the combined findings from the first phase of Climate Conversations here.

Downloadable resources